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Album Review

Leaping from an indie to a major for their sophomore effort 2011’s All at Once, Airborne Toxic Event takes advantage of being in the big leagues, getting the full effect of hiring a name producer in Dave Sardy. Together, Sardy and ATE clean and streamline the group’s stylishly romantic, affectedly literary, neo-alt-rock, toning down the pretension, ratcheting up the skyscraping atmosphere, and honing the hooks. It’s a record made for the night, but not darkened corners; it’s smeared with streaks of neon, faded stars, and omnipresent street lights, all conjuring the affected glamour of a night that never ends. ATE doesn’t shy away from their debts to the Killers and the Strokes, they brandish their influences so brazenly the echoes reverberate upon themselves and turn into something not quite their own but not quite recycled: it’s insistent mood pop designed for its moment, getting enough momentum from its bounce and melody to be something of a pleasure. Whether it’s a guilty one or not depends entirely upon the audience.


Formed: 2004 in Los Feliz, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed by novelist Mikel Jollett during a tumultuous period in his life, the Airborne Toxic Event (named after a section in American author Don DeLillo's novel White Noise) combine literate indie rock with real literary cred. Formed in 2006, the group initially took shape as a Los Angeles-based duo, with Jollett and drummer Daren Taylor serving as the only members. A roster expansion was eventually needed; as a result, classically trained violinist Anna Bulbrook was brought in to play viola and keyboards,...
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All At Once, The Airborne Toxic Event
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